All Star!: Honus Wagner and the Most Famous Baseball Card Ever

Overview

The Honus Wagner baseball card is the most valuable baseball card of all time! But he was born poor, ugly, bow-legged, and more suited to shoveling coal in his Pennsylvania mining town than becoming the greatest shortstop of all time. How could it happen? Did those strong arms and fast legs turn him into a Pittsburgh Pirate and one of the game's most unforgettable players?

In this true story, Jane Yolen shows us that wit, talent, perseverance, and passion score more than home ...

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Overview

The Honus Wagner baseball card is the most valuable baseball card of all time! But he was born poor, ugly, bow-legged, and more suited to shoveling coal in his Pennsylvania mining town than becoming the greatest shortstop of all time. How could it happen? Did those strong arms and fast legs turn him into a Pittsburgh Pirate and one of the game's most unforgettable players?

In this true story, Jane Yolen shows us that wit, talent, perseverance, and passion score more than home runs. As Honus would say, 'How about that!' AUTHOBIO: Jane Yolen lives in Hatfield, Massachusetts.

Jim Burke lives in Beacon, New York.

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Editorial Reviews

Booklist
[Yolen] is in particularly fine form with her sharp baseball-specific descriptions.
School Library Journal
Gr 2–5—This smartly crafted picture-book biography brings to life the Hall of Famer whose rare baseball card sold for three million dollars at a 2007 auction. Honus Wagner played for more than 20 seasons, most with the Pittsburgh Pirates; today he is recognized as one of the greatest shortstops ever. Born in 1874 to hardworking German immigrants, he lived in a hardscrabble suburb of Pittsburgh, whose skies were darkened by smoke from the city's many steel and iron mills. After sixth grade, Wagner and his brothers followed their father into the coal mines, where "he worked loading two tons of coal a day for 79 cents." Baseball offered a way out of the mines, and Wagner's natural talent and work ethic won acclaim throughout his career. With a storyteller's voice, Yolen's prose depicts the homely, bow-legged athlete: "it was said he could tie his shoes without bending over." Together with Burke's masterfully composed oil paintings, Yolen limns the athlete's strength of character whether in protecting an umpire from an unruly crowd or teaching his beloved daughters to play the game he loved so much. Another delightful oversize illustration finds Wagner awkwardly posed in a photographer's studio, his huge fielder's glove on his knee, as a group of young fans gather outside. Yolen and Burke have created an affectionate tribute to a baseball great and his times.—Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA
Publishers Weekly
How great does a baseball player have to be for his baseball card to sell for nearly $3 million? With emphatic prose and oil paintings that echo the perspectives and palettes of vintage photography and commercial art, Yolen and Burke amply prove that Wagner (1874–1955) did plenty to make that collectible worth every dollar. The treatment of Wagner’s hardscrabble early years—he left school in the sixth grade to work in Pennsylvania’s coal mines and used sandlot games to mold himself into a strong, fast, savvy player—is particularly masterful. What could have been a Bob Costas–like sports soap opera becomes an eloquently understated tribute to that archetypal American combination of stoicism, decency, drive, and sheer talent. Joining the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1900, Wagner went on to set record after record; as Yolen notes, “he did it all without drugs or fancy training programs or million-dollar incentives—just for the pure love of the game.” (True to form, Wagner had his baseball card pulled from the market when he learned it was being sold in cigarette packs.) That’s reason enough to take kids out to this ballgame. Ages 6–8. (Mar.)
Kirkus Reviews
Honus Wagner's life is often summed up in the story of his very rare baseball card. Yolen goes beyond this myth and in an entertaining tall-tale tone tells the story of the young Wagner and how he made the transition from working in the mines to joining the first class in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Burke's rich oils, in muted tones and from a variety of perspectives, are filled with details for the baseball fan to pore over. The first illustration shows the young Hans, called Honus, on his father's knee, his signature bowed legs naked while he plays catch with his brothers. The shadows from the window form a home-plate trapezoid on the rug. Readers see Wagner grow into "Old Reliable," the barrel-chested, long-armed speedster who became such an important part of Pittsburgh baseball. Tales of Wagner's speed (he once carried a teammate over home plate) and determination (he batted away cushions and bottles thrown at an umpire by an angry crowd with complete accuracy) make up the bulk of this volume. An engaging artist's note describes his research, but there is no corresponding author's note to help young baseball enthusiasts parse legend from fact. (Picture book/biography. 6-10)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780399246616
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 3/4/2010
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 534,360
  • Age range: 6 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.20 (w) x 11.10 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Jane Yolen
Jane Yolen
JaneYolen lives in Massachusetts.

John Schoenherr lives in New Jersey.

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